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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Help a vet seeking employment until next deployment

Ask for help.

Would anyone know of a job in Greater Las Vegas (or if pays enough) for a two tour Afghanistan one tour in ,Iraq National Guard soldier. He, his wife and two kids are without income now that he is back in-country with up to three years until his next full time deployment (key word is "up to"). Expertise but no formal education in all forms of fire arms and most heavy weapons (expert in most areas), field medic, logistics and reconnaissance.

Art Lynch (


"A nation divided cannot stand" - Abraham Lincoln

At the Regional Branch Division meeting this past weekend in Washington DC, SAG President Ken Howard was optimistic that there will be merger, possibly faster then is anticipated, but that any movement in that direction will have to wait until after the conclusion of the Theatrical-TV contract negotiations which begin this fall. 

SAG President Ken Howard spoke of the need for SAG and AFTRA to merge when he visited the Nevada membership this spring. Strong emotions remain on both sides from the last merger attempt, which failed to gain the required 60 percent of SAG membership ratification by a few hundred votes. Strong emotions define the pride of actors, the battles ahead with management, the emergence of technologies that are already changing how projects are produced and how we ply our crafts.

SAG and AFTRA share jurisdiction over television and commercial production. AFTRA also includes recording artists, a small percentage of broadcasters, some select producers and other smaller industry groups. Equity represents stage actors. All three have differing cultures, missions, and ideas about who should be a member and how. SAG requires work in the trade under SAG contract. AFTRA allows buy-ins, but in some areas requires work in the trade under their umbrella. Equity has a points system through which actors earn membership.

The need is there, far more apparent than to those who knew what was coming the last time a merger was attempted. Management is working the two unions, at times the three unions, against each other to keep pay, benefits and their costs down. Technology is moving rapidly into the gray area where both unions can claim "clear" jurisdiction under historic patterns. Both unions have staff, P&H, members services and other expenses to maintain, with funding coming from the work done by the membership (dues) and by new members. The competition is real and may represent the survival of both unions if they remain separate. Money only goes so far.

The vast majority of television pilots, and an increasingly strong representation of all television production, are moving forward under AFTRA contracts. Digital media has made the clear delineation in the past between film and videotape as ancient as the dinosaur. We live in a new era of production, with product transported to production facilities and eventually transmitted to the consumer on iPods and digital files.

Having stage, film, television and commercial actors under one umbrella is not uncommon in entertainment unions around the world.

There remains opposition to any talk of merger or movement toward it in factions of all three unions, with the strongest percentage within SAG.

The last merger failed by a few hundred votes to reach the 60% required for passage. That was SAG's membership, AFTRA voted in large numbers for merger.

With the elected leaders at the head of both unions open to the concept, speculation in the media and among union membership is reaching a renewed fever.

I understand those who speak of "an actors union for actors" and "save SAG." They have valid points. The question is if hanging onto the past and our pride in what we do, against the reality of the industry, the business climate, eroding unionism, and the need for solidarity, is worth the loss of our work to other unions and non-union work?

The technological, financial and corporate realities of the world we live in require us to merge, or suffer sharp declines in service, benefits and eventually contracts.

It is time to merge.

Art Lynch